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tv   European Journal  PBS  October 31, 2011 6:30pm-7:00pm PDT

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captioned by the national captioning institute >> france has not yet been listed among those with a major debt crisis. many local administrations are in financial trouble. in today's "european journal," hungary introduces forced labor for the long-term unemployed. the people of iceland are struggling to recover from financial disaster. protecting europe's waterways. if you are out of work in hungary, you are out of luck.
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prime minister viktor orban wants people to earn their keep. the daily commute of up to two hours is considered reasonable. >> near the hungarian village, roma have been working eight hours a day to remove therush from the mouains. if ty refuse, the welfare payments will be cut off. last spring, roma in this village were terrorized by neo nazis. >> we're happy to work. we do not see the sense in this. it grows back. we have to climb many kilometers on foot. we wonder why only roma are given this hard work. not one single hungarian welfare
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recipient. >> they have received no answer for that. in the future, all participants are to participate in a mandatory make work scheme. he is very fit and used to be in the military. >> i wanted to retrain to do a computer course. they told me i had to supervise these workers first or lose my unemployment benefits and job training. >> in budapest, this scheme is not run by the employment or economics ministries. it falls under the jurisdiction of the interior ministry. the department had responsible for the program says it is because his ministry has the strength to implement it. >> our goal is to create a family model in which children see their parents get up and go to work every morning. >> for decades, the mother of his family have we went off to
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work every day. she even earned an entry into the who's who listing of successful of professionals. she is well known as an outspoken journalist. she is jewish and the single mother of four. shortly after the orban government came to power, she was dismissed. >> i tried everything to find work. i said i would do almost anything. it has always followed the same pattern. at first people were enthusiastic about my education, i have three degrees. the next day, they would make some excuse in turn me down. now i am in this program as a kindergarten helper. he would not believe how badly they treat me. -- you would not believe how badly they treat me. >> the family is thinking about moving to israel. they are not the only ones to see little future for themselves in hungary since orban came to power. >> i do not want to say much about my family or the anti- semitism. i think it would be far worse to
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be a roma. >> opposition to the government is growing, even in unexpected places like within the police and military. they are part of a broadbased protest movement against changes to the retirement rules. police union members could be indirectly affected by the new make work schemes. >> we have heard the government is planning to use the unemployed to build stadiums and roads. they will live in shipping containers and watched over by police officers called out of early retirement. there is no way will will support that. where do you down to follow orders. -- there is no way we will support that. we are duty bound to follow orders. there is no way we will follow it. it is reminiscent of the 1940's. >> rumors are the officers are
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to watch over the unemployed as a performer is called voluntary community service. that would explain why the interior minter is responsible for the program. the ministry will not confirm the existence of such plans. >> i will not comment on the statements made by the police union. we do not force anyone to work. it is a voluntary program to restore values and get people back into everyday working life. >> it is lunchtime back at the make work program. the roma have spent four hours working in scorching heat. they still have four hours to go. a local newspaper states they have only themselves to blame. when they are finished here, they are to go home and spruce up their own yards. their welfare will be cut if their gardens are deemed untidy.
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>> france was always considered relatively safe from the risk of defaulting on its debt. thousands of its local authorities s are trouble, badly hit by the crisis of the bank dexia from which many had borrowed. swiss francs of gains against the euro, leaving quebec cannot service. they're suing the banks for giving bad advice. others may follow. >> unieux has a population of 8000. it has seen better days. it is facing and non of debt that has left it teetering on the -- brink of bankruptcy. the town council says the future is looking bleak for kindergarten is like this one. -- kindergartens like this one. >> the municipal government is responsible for public institution like kindergarten. we do not have money left to pay for water, electricity, and
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repairs. we should shut down this kindergarten. >> unieux is in no position to pay off its 11 million euro debt. it has been living beyond its means for too long. widening streets and building a brand new multimedia library, a big project that looks out of place. the town has a alrea decided to shut it down. >> everyone could profit from the multimedia library, even ordinary workers. the people really at fault are never held to account. >> at the town hall, everyone agrees that dexiais responsible for the disaster because of the way it's structured the loan. three years ago, the communist
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member came to power. >> the credit was indeed in stages. the first stage between 2007 and 2011 was no problem for the town to repay. it carried a fixed interest rate of 3.60%. -- 3.68%. >> the second stage has proven to be disastrous. the e intest is variable and tied to the swiss franc. at one time, the interest rates even soared to 24%. the town owes the bank over 1 million euros this year alone. >> what are we going to have to pay in 2012 and 2013? the loan agreement runs until 2035. >> you will not find an answer on any dexia bank brochure.
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they made loans in swiss francs despite fluctuating rates. now the clients are paying for this. the unieux town council thought they were borrowing at a fixed interest rate. >> basically, this amounts to fraud. it is how the banks operate. >>nieux is not the only place that got blindsided. thousands of cities and towns are in the same boat. france has a robust economy. it thought it was immune to the debt crisis. unieux used to be a thriving steel town where corporate time -- taxes kept the city coffers full. but the steel industry went into a kind -- into decline in the 1970's. the municipality after the banks for help in preserving its assets.
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experts say the local politicians were naive. >> a municipal government should never have borrowed on those sorts of terms. it was not the only one. there was a certain amount of pressure from the regional capital, the public prosecutors, and high-ranking politicians. it was all in the interest of certain bank. >> in france, many refused to believe corruption and murky business deals were happening on their doorsteps and not just in places like greece. >> the difference is the greeks have knowledge they need to pay a. the government is conducting an austerity plan with far reaching consequences like salary cuts. we are arguing the loan was illegal and the bank did not tell the municipality the truth. >> unieux is currently paying
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back only a fraction of the interest it owes. it is suing dexia for fraud. some say the town should learn to live within its means. ♪ >> iceland was the first country hit by the financial crisis. three years ago, it was virtually bankrupt. the citizens were facing a mountain of debt. the banks were nationalized to protect them. the people are pulling together and fighting back, doing whatever it takes to get the country back on its feet, and succeeding. >> his children enjoy every minute they get to spend with their father. during the crisis, he had to stop taking education classes and start working seven days a week as a taxi driver. >> i live for my children. i want to watch them grow up and
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develop. that is why am trying to stay positive. i do not want them to feel the crisis. i try to protect them. >> it is a daily struggle to make ends meet. over the past three years, they often did not know how they would pay the bills. the crisis took a toll on their family and relationships. many of their married friends have gotten divorced. >> it makes me crazy to see all of these people used to work in the banks. they are the ones who made us think. they were able to write off billions while the ordinary people have to fight to pay off our loans they keep getting bigger and bigger. >> his story is common. he says many icelanders are too proud to talk about their ordeal. the financial crisis seems like a distant memory, but it has had lasting effects. public trust in politicians has
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plummeted. that has prompted voters to seek an alternative to the old guard. last year, voters chose the well-known comedian as the new mayor. ♪ his party was founded as a joke. and number of artists belong to it. their goal is to poke fun at politics. even pledged to build a polar bear enclosure at the zoo. after winning the election, they are now faced with the satisfaction. social workers attended the city council meeting to protest against budget cuts. that has become unavoidable. >> the idea is still alive and well that some leader will show up and get us out of this jam. i do not want people to start believing i am the person. i want them to believe in their stalls -- themselves and that
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they have the power to make change. i want them to believe that. >> public opinion is fickle. he is the fourth mayor in court for years. the crisis has been life changing for many icelanders. he was working at a banquet the crisis hit. he turned his experience into a best-selling book. -- he was working at a bank when the crisis hit. he turned his experience into a best-selling book. >> the provided a service. it became glamorized. >> the crisis hit hard. people had to adapt. that is something the main character of the book had a hard time doing. he faced unemployment and a sudden sense of meaningless. the crisis became personal. it is a feeling that the taxi driver knows well.
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he tries to o stay positive instead of giving in to those feelings. he hopes that thingngs wi change. >> we are too fixated on prosperity and property. i really hope future generations will change that. people will rethink things and choose to pursue that which is good. >> he has his priorities in order. his family comes first, before his own interests. meanwhile, he has figured out a way to profit from the crisis. his book is selling so well in iceland and abroad that he does t have to keep working at the bank. tonight he is talking to a director about making the film out of his novel. >> i would not say i cashed in on the crisis.
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i wanted to document the special atmosphere, the we are the region the way our ancestors did before us. -- the way our ancestors did before us. >> icelanders have always been passionate story tellers. that is something the crisis hs not taken away from them. ♪ >> a serbian mayor has built a reputation for unusual ways of helping his citizens. he gave farmer's cows and since single people on holidays to greece hoping they will stay in his town and raise families. how does he afford such largess? that is a good question. >> on the last friday of every month, more than 1000 flocked to the jagodina city hall. they come you are not just to air grievances but alalso tget
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some -- that come here not just to air grievances but also to get some financial help. >> i am unemployed. the mayor really helps everybody. >> mayor dragan markovic doles out the equivalent of some 30,000 euros on friday. that has gotten him plenty of supporters. he holds a seat in the national assembly. his party is a member of the rung coalition in belgrade. he is influential well beyond jagodina. >> it has been like this for the past six years. i will have about 1500 people on a day like today. >> palma is less eager to talk about where the funding comes from f for his friday generosit. critics accuse him of buying public support. times are tough in jagodina in central serbia. the signs are plain to see.
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the rundown areva has been struggling for survival. -- the run down brewery has been struggling for survival. the department store shot down. he has left his stamp on jagodina with a large recreational park, a soccer stadium, and a popular water park. he has also attracted industry with the promise of free land. the government provides farmers with cows to encourage people to stay in rural areas. a village on the outskirts of the city is home to one family. all they had to get a cow was to register with the government lottery. he has given out hundreds of the animals. >> it is unique. there has never been anything like this in serbia or the former yugoslavia. >> dragan markovic has been
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remarkably successful since the end of the yugoslav wars. he claims he never carried a weapon. boxing has been enough. that line has become a favorite joke among his colleagues. weapons were a serious matter in the early 1990's. people checked them before entering a restaurant or club. in 1993, the party of serbian unity was founded. its leader was a notorious paramilitary leader in the croatian wars. he was assassinated before he could face trial for war crimes. dragan markovic was also associated with the party. >> your viewers should know i did not spend a single day at work. i was not a member of the militia. i never had any military function. >> journalists have discovered that much of the money that he doles out comes from the serbian reconstruction fund, reserve for things like flood damage. >> in this budget reserve is
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earmarked for those things. resourceful mayor see things -- sees things differently. he treats them as his toy. >> that does not bother him. he has been seeking to boost birthrates by helping couples get to know each other. until now, his love was his motorcycle. now he is ready to settle down and get married. helping out is markovic offering 5 days vacation for anyone who finds someone to love and start a family with. they are heading to the greek resort where palma would like to build new hotels. he has little understanding for anyone who fails to see the value of his big plans. ♪ >> we do not appreciate our waterways enough according to one man. he is out to prove it. he is spending six months going
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through 15 countries from london to istanbul, documenting the waterways. he once the rivers and canals to be better protected. he is documenting the gems of nature. ♪ >> the journey is the destination. it has to be when you set off on the 50's hundred kilometer trip in a little rowing boat -- when you set off on the 5,200 kilometer trip in a little rowing boat. he has time to kill. for him, that is luxury enough. he was a successful architect and art dealer. today he lives as simply as possible. he is not a dropout from society. he is trying to improve things. >> water is life. it is everything. rivers are the beginnings of all
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civilized societies. they carry ideas with them, the good and evil on this planet. i hope together we can all do something for this wonderful thing called water. ♪ giacomo says at rivers are an endangered species in europe. he hopes his trip will call attention to that. his mission is to help protect existing riverscapes and approach the jim -- and promote a gentler approach to terrorism -- tourism. his journey kicked off on may 1. on may 9, he crossed the english channel. his boat is a real creation of the fishing craft used by the vikings. also on board is his friend, an
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experienced brazilian skipper. they made the crossing to france together in just nine hours. the two men have travelled through france and germany. they're now navigating the danube. on the flood plains east of vienna, the wind is brisk. giacomo hoists his sail. soon he passes the newest of 10 power plants on the austrian part of the danube. the river drops by almost 9 meters. the danube is a source of energy and a major traffic artery. >> it is a sorry sight here. the river is being massacred. look at the fortifications to protect the shore from waves and erosion.
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hardly any fish can live there anymore. >>. ships can travel here, enormous ships. they demonstrate little consideration for giacomo and his little boat. encounters like this are frequent and dangerous. in the afternoon, he arrives at the flood plains. they are not easy to enter. the danube flows rapidly here. the flood plains have been declared a national park. three decades ago, a power station was to be built here. after years of protests, austrians voted against the project in a referendum. he is delighted by this decision. the park director shows him the wildlife that is still to be found in the flood plains. there is a rare kind of turf toe -- turtle.
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>> in austria, these are the last flood plains still directly connected to the river. we used to have many landscapes like this on the danube. the evolving greatly changed by the construction of power plants. -- they have all been greatly changed by the construction of power plants. this is the last one in its natural state. >> we want to communicate this to the other people. this is the example of it. >> he posts impressions of his journey on the internet so that as many people as possible cancer in his wonderful experiences. ♪ there is nothing have so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. i hope he agrees with him after
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six months at the oars. goodbye. ♪
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